Northern Tour Finale

Pai – Fish Cave– Mae Hong Son

On our  66 mile (106.6 km) drive today we continued though spectacular mountain scenery and round more sharp corners to our final destination, Mai Hong Son.  This remote, small town is just a few kilometers from the Burma border in the far northwest of Thailand – but more about that later.

We made our first stop at a Scenic Lookout and were greeted with superb views of mountains on both sides of the road.  As an added bonus for Bill, an old Mustang rally car was parked there and he learned that the Spice Road Classic  was passing through this area!  The Rally, open to Vintage and Classic cars before 1970, started in Cambodia and would end in Myanmar (Burma).   Unfortunately, no other cars came by during our brief stop.

Fish Cave National Reserve

Some 10 miles from Mae Hong Son we arrived at a Fish Cave located in Tham Pla–Namtok Pha Suea National Park. The tree-shaded grounds of the Fish Cave are beautifully maintained and we enjoyed our cool walk along the river to the cave.  The fish are a deep blue brook carp and are left unmolested due to being revered by the people. In fact, all the fish looked huge … thanks to the people buying food and feeding them!  Refreshments for visitors are available at several food stalls and restaurants at the entrance to the Park.  It was a pleasant stop.

Phu Klone Country Club and Beauty Spa

And now for a little pampering!  Close to the Park is the Phu Klone Country Club and Beauty Spa. Considered one of the world’s three natural hot springs, the Spa offers a wide range of treatments including facial and body mud treatments, hot spring baths and different types of massage. The mineral rich mud helps to remove toxins and rejuvenate the skin.

Our group was scheduled for a facial mud pack or a mineral foot bath!  The mud pack is similar to the NuSkin Glacial Marine Mud that we have been using for years.  Once washed off, the skin feels smooth and soft!  Everyone who participated thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  And, of course, looked years younger!

Pha Bong Village Home Stay

Following lunch in Mae Hong Son, we visited another Homestay Village, Pha Bong.  Nestled in a valley surrounded by mountains, this area is known for rice farming and we walked along a raised bamboo walkway to where the villagers were threshing the rice.


The men worked non-stop, picking up bundles using two sticks tied together with twine at one end to make tongs.  After beating the bundles for several minutes to release the grains, the stalks were set aside to be used to cover onion and garlic plants to protect them from too much hot sun and rain.  Life on a farm here is hard, with everyone working from early morning to late at night.  It was exhausting just watching the workers!

Click link above, in new window click the circular arrow in upper right, hold mouse button to move the photo around to experience the 360 Panoramic Photo.

The village is surrounded by beautiful mountains which Bill captured in this 360 degree panoramic photo.  If you look closely you’ll see part of a person sitting on the bench!  That isn’t a ghost – it’s Priscilla!

Again, the villagers welcomed us with coffee and cakes and showed us a selection of the homes used by visitors.  A Homestay visit is a perfect experience for those seeking a closer understanding of life in the countryside.

We continued to the town of Mae Hong Son, the final stop on our tour.  Bordering Burma (now known as Myanmar), this ethnically diverse area is home to the Shan people who migrated from Burma and several Hill tribes people including the Karen, Lisu and Mhong.

Wat Prathat Doi Kongmu, Mae Hong Son

The Burmese influence is evident in the Shan architecture of the Wat Prathat Doi Kongmu, a striking temple with two ornate white chedis built in the 19th Century.  Perched at the edge of a mountain, the temple seems to be standing guard over the town which is nestled in a valley below!

The sun shining on the white chedis, the ornate filigree work, the colorful flower offerings and monks dressed in their saffron robes combined to create a dazzling picture.

After time to relax in our hotel, we gathered for our Farewell Dinner at the Bai Fern Restaurant. We were welcomed by Officials of Mae Hong Son Province, and representatives of our tour expressed appreciation for the opportunity offered to us to experience the benefits of living in Northern Thailand.

The evening ended with a walk through the night market with its fine display of local handicrafts, many made by the hill tribe women.  Tempting aromas came from the food stalls and across Chong Kham Lake, the floodlit exquisite golden chedi of Burmese style Wat Chong Klang Temple lit the sky, casting its reflection across the lake.  It’s an awesome sight and one that you definitely want to capture on film … except our battery was dead.  Oh well … that’s just one more reason for us to return – this time for a longer stay!

After breakfast on our final morning we said farewell to our driver (whom Bill nicknamed “Elvis” because he looked like him!) and boarded our 45 minute jet flight back to Chiang Mai where we enjoyed lunch at the Airrow Thai Club Restaurant.   More farewells followed – to our excellent Tour Guide, Noi, and our fellow passengers – before everyone went their way home.

Tired but exhilarated, we spent the next day reliving everything we had been privileged to experience.  What we had seen was just a portion of this beautiful country but we are left with lasting memories of the beautiful landscapes, stunning architecture and, above all, the welcoming Thai people who were gracious enough to share their lifestyle with us.

Enjoy our photo album to see more photographs of the trip.